Year 3, Month 5, Day 2: A 50-Watt Bulb?

The faithful are opening their eyes. Or are they? The News Virginian reports — you decide:

In “The Global Warning Reader: A Century of Writing about Climate Change,” Dr. Bill McKibben presents “The Evangelical Climate Change Initiative,” a 2006 document signed by 86 American Christian evangelical leaders. Signers include: Rick Warren (“The Purpose Driven Life”); W. Todd Bassett, National Commander of the Salvation Army; Ron Sider, President of Evangelicals for Social Action; and advisors and columnists for Christianity Today magazine. “In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord,” they said, “we urge all who read this declaration to join us in this effort” of teaching and acting on the following four claims.

1. “Human-Induced Climate Change is Real.” Among the evidence the signers studied was that collected by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) whose 1988-2002 chairman, John Houghton, is a committed Christian. They remembered that the science was settled enough for the Bush Administration to state in a 2004 report, and then at the 2005 G-8 summit, that humans were responsible for “at least some of it (climate change).” The IPCC, however, holds that human activities are responsible for “most of the warming,” according to the evangelical leaders.

2. “The Consequences of Climate Change Will Be Significant, and Will Hit the Poor the Hardest.” The signers emphasized the impact of even the smallest increases in human-caused world-wide temperature upon people in poor countries: tropical diseases, hurricanes, flooding, reduction in food crops, famine, and the vulnerability of refugees to exploitation and violence, even internal and external military oppression. “Millions of people,” they wrote, “could die in this century because of climate change.” They also noted the destruction it could bring to “God’s other creatures.”

I’m not going to take this one on faith. Sent April 23:

The rejection of climate change has long been a shibboleth of political conservatives, who have a record of denying inconvenient facts and expertise that goes back at least fifty years. Why, then, are evangelicals — one of the most consistently conservative voting blocs in the country — beginning to accept the scientific reality of global warming? While some may be encouraged, I am less sanguine about the motivations behind the faithful’s abandonment of long-held denialist positions.

Environmentalists are interested in the long-term survival of the planet; talk to a “tree-hugger” and you’ll hear someone whose worries about humanity’s future in the year 3000 motivate them to conservation and the wise use of resources. By contrast, evangelicals eagerly anticipating the End Times may have little reason to practice sustainability. Is climate-change acceptance among conservative Christians accompanied by a growing conviction that industrialized humanity needs to change its ways to avoid catastrophe? Or are they cheering on the burgeoning greenhouse effect, assuming that the souls of the faithful will be providentially rescued from a disaster of Biblical proportions?

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 3, Day 21: Only When The Last Tree Has Been Cut Down…

The Tuscon Sentinel notes the frothy mixture of god-bothering and just plain dumb that makes up Senator Santorum’s public statements:

Rick Santorum calls global warming a “hoax.” If he were a scientist, he would be in a small minority.

“The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is,” Santorum said at the Gulf Coast Energy Summit in Biloxi, Miss., on March 12. He made similar comments in early February in Colorado Springs, Colo., saying that global warming was a “hoax” and that “man-made global warming” and proposed remedies were “bogus.”

Santorum isn’t the only climate change skeptic, but skeptics are rare among scientists who actually study the climate. A paper published in 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences found that 97 percent to 98 percent of climate researchers “most actively publishing in the field” agreed that climate change was occurring.

To my knowledge, no journalist has yet asked Santorum about his views on apocalypse. It would be a very interesting question…although we already know the answer. Sent March 15:

Just when we thought the 2012 election couldn’t get any more idiotic, we’re treated to Rick Santorum’s recent remarks on climate change. Judging from the former Pennsylvania senator’s eager rejection of scientific research, his backers must be terribly nostalgic for the good old days…when the sun revolved around the earth.

Mr. Santorum’s constituents are ready to ignore the science of global warming for two reasons. First, because they’ve been lied to and manipulated by a group of cynical, profit-driven corporate entities; second, because their collective eagerness for a Biblical Armageddon renders irrelevant any notion of planetary long-term thinking. Ronald Reagan’s Interior Secretary, James Watt, famously remarked, “We don’t have to protect the environment — the Second Coming is at hand.” Mr. Santorum’s theologically-driven ignorance of basic science shows that he’s cut from the same cloth.

Any politician this anxious for apocalypse should never be entrusted with the levers of power.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 6, Day 23: The Last Trump — A Competitive Sport?

June 9: Mitt Romney’s tactical waffling on climate change has lots of Republicans up in arms. The idiot wing of the GOP (which is almost the entire party by now) is terribly upset. Mitt is going to keep plugging away at this; he’ll alienate the teabaggers, but I think he’s hoping to attract disaffected Independent environmentalist free-market libertarians, both of whom are certainly watching his campaign with interest at this point.

The New York Daily News mentions Romney as a counterpoint to Rick “Google” Santorum:

“I believe the Earth gets warmer, and I also believe the Earth gets cooler,” Santorum said. “And I think history points out that it does that. The idea that man, through the production of carbon dioxide – which is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and the man-made part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas – is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd .”

He then said the issue was an “opportunity for the left” to take more government control.

“It’s been on a warming trend so they said, ‘Oh, let’s take advantage of that and say that we need the government to come in and regulate your life some more because it’s getting warmer.’ It’s just an excuse for more government control of your life.”

The issue of climate change has been heating up the 2012 GOP race.

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney made headlines earlier this month when he broke from far-right orthodoxy and said he believes humans are partially responsible for climate change.

I had a sudden realization about these assholes, and incorporated it into this letter, which went out on June 9:

There is hardly anything that can bring down the wrath of modern Republicans than acknowledging fact-based, testable scientific reality. Enter Mitt Romney, who wants to bring the climate change debate to the table in the upcoming primary season. While Mitt doesn’t actually think we should do anything about the greatest threat human civilization has ever faced, his willingness to entertain the notion that carefully executed scientific research might have something to tell us is in itself a notion utterly repellent to Tea-party Republicans. The GOP’s anti-intellectual core is also overwhelmingly likely to believe in the Biblical Armageddon, suggesting that their rejection of climate science may be nothing more than eschatological jealousy; if civilization is going to end, they want to be certain their team gets the credit. Those of us who would like the human race to endure and thrive for eons to come, however, are watching with appalled fascination.

Month 3, Day 5: Armageddon Out Of Here

I read this article about arctic methane releases in the Times of London this evening. I sat down to write in a very disturbed state, and this is what emerged. At the moment I can’t think who I should send it to…so I’ll send it to the Boston Phoenix for the moment. They probably won’t publish it, so I’ll eventually send it elsewhere. If anyone has a suggestion, I’d welcome it.

Have you written your politicians today? Your media?

The news of ever-increasing methane releases from beneath the Arctic seabed is great news for those wishing an end to human civilization. Dominionists eagerly awaiting the End Times are no doubt delighted to learn that (according to a just-published article in the journal Science, and reported in the London Times) the sub-sea permafrost that has kept gigatonnes of CH4 locked in for millennia is now melting. Because methane is 25 times as powerful as carbon dioxide in trapping heat, this will accelerate the greenhouse effect even further.

Even better news for these folks is that all this methane has not yet been factored into the prediction models of climate scientists. All those silly “worst-case” scenarios presented by Al Gore and the IPCC? Hopelessly optimistic.

As I said, good news for those awaiting Ragnarok or the Armageddon.

Some of us, however, would rather have a good life for our descendants than a climatic Apocalypse, no matter how spectacular.

We would like to see an international effort to deal with the methane release (and other elements of the climate crisis) before it is too late. We would like to see all the nations of the world form a unified response to this common threat, combining our resources, skills and innovations to keep our planet safe for our children and their children and their children’s children after them. We would like to see the United States of America leading this effort, earning the gratitude of generations to come.

With the climate crisis exacerbated by an ignorance crisis, humanity is facing a threat of unimaginable size and severity. Now is not the time to give in to the political posturing of Rapturists eager to meet their Maker in a final conflagration.

Warren Senders